Americans Marco Dawson and Todd Hamilton will form a formidable raiding party on two of Scotland’s most iconic links next month when they compete in The Open and the Senior Open Championship in successive weeks.
Dawson earned the right to play his first Open at Royal Troon having won the Senior Open title at Sunningdale last year, while Hamilton – a newcomer to the senior ranks – will make a sentimental return to the Ayrshire course where he won the Claret Jug in 2004.
Both men will then complete their trip to Scotland by joining around 30 major champions at Carnoustie on the east coast in a bid to lift the 2016 Senior Open Championship Presented by Rolex from July 21-24.
Dawson fended off challenges from Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer and Miguel Angel Jiménez at Sunningdale to take the title against the odds.
Now the 52 year old can’t wait to experience back-to-back weeks in Ayrshire and Angus.
“Winning last year was a great thrill,” admitted Dawson. “The reaction was amazing. I had calls and letters from people I hadn’t seen for years and fan mail from others who watched on TV.
“My first taste of links was at Royal Porthcawl in the Senior Open in 2014, as I never had the chance to play in The Open while I was on the regular Tour. Now I can play in both events in the space of two weeks.
“I am very excited about playing Royal Troon and Carnoustie this time. I’m told both are unique courses and I can’t wait to defend my title at Carnoustie.”
Hamilton, who turned 50 last autumn, upset the odds by beating Ernie Els in a play-off in 2004 to record the greatest triumph of his career.
He said: “I am very much looking forward to my first return trip to Royal Troon since The 2004 Open Championship – for obvious reasons.
“I hope that seeing Troon will spark good memories for both me and my family as they will also make the trip over. With the Senior Open at Carnoustie the following week it will be an added bonus to play links golf in its purest form in back to back weeks.
“I believe Carnoustie may have the hardest four finishing holes in Championship golf – three very long par fours combined with a long par three makes for a difficult last hour of golf. You definitely don’t want to have to make up shots on those four holes as they require high quality shots. Throw in some links style weather and Carnoustie’s finale makes for a stern test.
“I’m hoping that by playing Royal Troon the week prior, it will allow me to get some extra feel for the type of golf I’ll need at Carnoustie.”
Hamilton will be attempting to join Gary Player and Tom Watson as the only players to win The Open and Senior Open titles.
He added: “It’s hard to believe only Gary and Tom have done that. It kind of makes you wonder which one of the two is the hardest to win! They say things come in threes, so there is room for one more champion on that list and it would be an honour to have my name mentioned with those two greats. I will keep my fingers crossed.”
Dawson and Hamilton will be joined at Carnoustie by a glittering cast of around 30 fellow major champions, including Bernhard Langer, who won the first of his two Senior Open titles at Carnoustie six years ago. Also playing are Mark O’Meara, Tom Lehman and a host of European legends such as Montgomerie and Jiménez, plus newcomers John Daly and Jean Van de Velde.